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Dog Allergies

Spring is often regarded as allergy season for people, but did you know that summer is the worst season for dog allergies? These allergies can ruin your pup’s summer. The only good thing about seasonal allergies is just that - they are seasonal.

Can my dog have summertime allergies?

Any dog breed can develop an allergic reaction. It all depends on how the dog’s body reacts when it comes in contact with a foreign substance.

An allergy starts when the immune system mistakes a harmless substance as an invader. When this happens, the immune system makes antibodies to combat the unknown allergen. The next time these antibodies come in contact with it, they will release chemicals which cause an allergic reaction.

Allergic reactions and their severity vary from dog to dog. However, studies show that some pets such as terriers, setters, retrievers, and flat-face breeds (pugs and bulldogs) are more susceptible to them because of certain inbred traits.  For example, terriers tend to be sensitive to certain foods. Setters are prone to skin irritation all over their body and ears.  Dogs with thick double coats, like retrievers, tend to catch and hold allergens in their fur. And pugs, like most flat-faced breeds, have breathing issues which leave them more vulnerable to airborne substances.

What are the symptoms of a dog allergy

Unlike human allergies which generally involve the respiratory tract, dog allergies are more about red, itchy skin and inflammation which can be very painful to them. Some of the more common signs to watch for are excessive scratching and chewing on certain areas of the body and a frequent rubbing up against things. If the allergy is not treated, these problem areas can lead to scabbing, hot spots, and hair loss.

A dog’s ear can be a tell tale indicator of an allergic reaction because the canals become itchy and inflamed. Other symptoms include inflamed orifices and red paws. Finally, as you might expect, pups can experience some sneezing and coughing just like people

What are the sources of summer time allergies?

Organisms that become very active during the summer are the main cause of summer allergies. They include anything from pollinating plants to aggressive insects.

Plant-based allergies are very common to dogs because sprouting vegetation tends to rub against their legs, underside, and face. Because they are low to the ground, they come in contact with certain life forms that we as humans might not.

Pollen from certain plants can also cause allergic reactions in pets. Some of these plants are:  cockleweed, pigweed, sagebrush, ragweed, timothy, bermuda, blue grasses, orchard, red top, and sweet vernal. How harmful each plant may be will vary depending on the dog.  Consult a veterinarian if your pet has come in contact with any of them.   Also, keep an eye out for plants that are toxic to pups – a list can be found here.  

Many insects (bees, wasps, hornets & ants) become more active in the summer and bites/stings from them can also lead to allergic reactions. Check your dog’s underside and face for marks. Symptoms may show within 20 minutes of a bite, while others could take 24 hours.  Again, be watchful.

What should I do if I suspect my dog has a summer allergy?

If you think your dog has a summer allergy, take your pet to a veterinarian. Please do not try to diagnose or treat the condition yourself. It would be very helpful, however, to give your vet a list of the active organisms your pet may have recently been in contact. 

What treatment options are available?

Dog allergies are hard to treat just like people allergies because there are so many variables involved. Because allergies are symptomatic, it takes a long time to find the best treatment regimen. 

Your veterinarian can prescribe medication but keep in mind that treating allergies can be expensive. The average national cost of treating plant allergies in dogs is $400 dollars.

Before going that route, you might want to first try just walking a different route, pulling the weeds in your yard, or giving your dog frequent baths to prevent allergens from being absorbed through the skin. 

You might even try some of these home remedies which have proven to alleviate symptoms:


Add plain oatmeal to bath water. Oats contain polysaccharides which leave a protective film on the skin that prevents dryness and itching. If you don’t want the mess, trying using a hypo-allergenic shampoo – most contain oatmeal. Be sure to read the label.   

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apply apple cider vinegar to hot spots to help keep them dry or add it to your dog’s food to help clear a runny nose or watering eyes. 


For pollen allergies, add raw, locally sourced honey to your dog’s food. Do not substitute a shelf-brand because you need a honey that is most likely made with the same kind of pollen that is causing the allergic reaction. Gradually exposing your pet to the allergen like this should help build immunity.

Whatever you do, please do not give your pup any human medication unless your veterinarian prescribes it. While it may work, these drugs have side effects that may ultimately put your pet at risk. When in doubt, ask the professionals. 

As you can see, allergies are difficult to treat. During allergy season be extra vigilant for signs that your dog is in distress. All you can really do is try to alleviate the symptoms so they have some relief. And remember that seasonal allergies are just that…. seasonal. Now, go and enjoy the summer with your best friend! - Dustin Ford


1. “Allergies: symptoms and causes” Mayo Clinic. 2017.

2. Becker, Karen. “If your dog is itchy or your cat is wheez, you need to read this” Mercola Healthy Pets. 22 Jun. 2012.

3. K. Becker

4. “Summer Season Allergies in Dogs” Vetary Inc. 2017.

5. “Insect Bites on Dogs: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment” Pet Assure Corp. 2017.

6. “Plant Allergies in Dogs” Vetary Inc. 2017.

Demystifying Pugs

Since the beginning of time man has looked up into the sky and asked questions: Why are we here? Is there a god? Are we alone in the universe? What’s up with pugs?
Pugs might be the 50/50 animal in the eyes of the human race; that is, half the population loves pugs and the other half dismisses pugs as dogs. People who adore pugs cannot be swayed in their affection; no matter what pugs do, they find it adorable or funny. However, there seems to be some trend among the other half. This trend is the ideology that pugs are useless and “horrible aftermath of dog breeding” in man’s attempt to play god. There are several dog bred heritages, including pugs, that are criticised as being unhealthy for the dog’s in question, such as the english bulldog, the dachshund, and the corgi. Many dog enthusiasts would argue that we should not continue pure breeding dogs just because it is appealing to us. However, most dogs were bred to serve an economic purpose. Before bulldogs were seen as the walking heart attacks of the dog world they bred to help butchers control livestock. Dachshunds were not always the punchline of a hotdog joke. Their long sausage-like bodies helped them easily maneuver and hunt vicious badgers in their dens. Even the corgi with its short legs and low center of gravity was perfect for nipping at the legs of larger livestock, making it an ideal herding dog. But how and why were pugs bred?
The truth is, we don’t completely know. In fact we know very little of the breeding practices that started the original pugs. We know that at some point in ancient China pugs were bred as companions for the prestigious ruling families. These dogs lived luxurious lives and were often guarded by highly trained soldiers. Pugs were highly valued by Chinese Emperors. At some time in the 3rd century China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, ordered the destruction of all almost artwork and writing describing early pugs. Perhaps this was a way to keep the pug exclusive. Regardless of whatever his motive was, that is where most of our knowledge about the pug origin ends. Later on, chinese royalty began giving pugs to other nations as gifts. Pugs went on to become very popular across Asia, Holland, England, and the recent Americas. 
At this point it might seem like pugs were simply bred to do nothing. It seems like they were for a long time, making them ‘pampered’ and unable to survive in the wild. This is not an unpopular theory when you examine the environment they were bred in. Sometimes in ancient chinese royalty, noble families would take extensive actions to promote status just because they could afford to. Foot Bindings was a practice where tight bindings were applied to the feet of young girls to modify their shape as they grew older. This essentially distorts their feet to where they cannot walk. These traditions to fit-in today, but back in ancient China, people would look at a woman with foot bindings and say something like “She is so wealthy and important that she has no need to walk.” Imagine that same mindset applied to pugs. They were pampered so extensively that they could not perform real life tasks other than being a status symbol with the exception, of course, for companionship.
On the other hand, it seems very unlikely that a dog with such specific and prominent features would have no use for them. Were there any other uses for the breeding pugs? Possibly.
There is a popular myth going around that pugs were bred to HUNT LIONS. I first heard this laughable myth from Zach Galifianakis in The Campaign.  Some people took this as fact when they heard that pugs were referenced as lion dogs in ancient China. From there some hasbeen historians started throwing around claims that the pug’s short snout was bred specifically so that they could clamp down on lions. This is a fabricated myth based on ignorance and the result of a joke going over someone’s head. The truth behind the name ‘Foo Dogs’, or ‘Lion Dogs’, is that chinese nobleman thought pugs to the guardians of the sacred lion statues portrayed in chinese culture. Perhaps one could argue that pugs might still have been used to hunt for smaller game, like how the dachshund hunted vermin. This is a plausible idea because most dog breeds can be traced back to performing some type of hunting or protection role. 
Protection. That doesn’t sound like a word you would associate with pugs. It would be ridiculous to trust a pug with your life.
Maybe not. 
Well, in a one-on-one situation a pug probably won’t take down a home invader, and I don't think they could fend off many fierce animals, especially not lions. What if pugs served a different role in personal protection?
Think about this. 
Often multiple dogs were used for protection. China has a long history of breeding some of the fiercest and most loyal breeds of dog, including the Chow Chow and the Tibetan Mastiff. In many parts of Asia, these dogs were used to protect livestock, property, and people. You can see some similarities between between the two breeds and pugs. Chow Chows and pugs both have short snouts and most pugs just look like compact mastiffs. Not to mention, all three dogs are extremely loyal to their masters. There might have been some breeding between these two titans and smaller dogs. 
Here is my theory.
So pugs are inferior fighters who might have been in close contact with other guard dogs. Perhaps pugs were put on guard duty with these bigger dogs as an extra set of eyes. If a pug found danger, it could bark and alert the bigger, tougher dogs and their owners. The pug could have been a whistle blower. It doesn’t seem like such a ludicrous idea to me. The pug’s quickness and energy would allow it to be a formidable scout. Their short stature and snouts produce and unmistakable high pitched yelp that could warn others of danger.
It turns out that pugs actually have a slight history as guard dogs. In 1572, The Prince of Orange, a branch of the European House of Nassau, claimed that his pug had single-handedly saved his life by warning him of approaching assassins. After that day, the pug became the official dog of the House of Orange.
While some of the pug’s origin is unknown, we can still make some reasonable assumptions about their history. Maybe pugs were bred for a very specific purpose but got swept into royalty along the way or maybe some emperor just wanted a dog that would look cute wearing a hat. Who can say? Despite their breeding, pugs can survive in today’s world, considering that most dog’s are used for companionship. They are here in this day and age to be loved. - Dustin Ford

Dog Diapers are No Longer Undercover

Incontinency is an unmentionable even amongst the best of friends. And, if it’s your dog experiencing it, we still tend to keep it hush-hush like the unspeakable taboos in Fifty Shades of Gray. Maybe it’s because some things in life are just weird and uncomfortable to talk about.

Nonetheless, doggie incontinence is real. I know about it first-hand and it can be very frustrating and scary. Finding your first accident conjures up all kinds of feelings. There’s denial, then panic, and dare I say mad. These incidents can turn your life upside down.
You become obsessed and start tip-toeing around your home as if there are buried land mines. You look for shiny spots that have nothing to do with floor wax and you start sniffing like a bloodhound. All the while your best friend is watching your antics thinking you’ve lost your mind.

Pet incontinence can be behavioral, hormonal, age related or just a mystery. That is what we deal with almost once a year now. Our pup Maru, has an auto immune condition which leaves some of the best specialist baffled. During a flare-up she wets herself while sleeping or relaxing. The literal constant peeing sets off a myriad of other things such as dehydration, what comes out, must be matching what is going in. You should check their gums regularly for dehydration. We can’t stress enough that when you start seeing accident’s out of the blue, do not walk, but run to your vet. In the mean time you learn to cope with the situation at hand by crying uncle and buying your first Big D or diaper.

You’d think this would be a simple task. But do you have any idea how many doggie diapers are on the market? There are Bloomers, Piddle Pants, Peepers, Do Rites, Kennel Comforts, Wiki Wags, and Washable Wonders to name just a few.

To help narrow your field of choices, check out these sites for the Best Dog Diapers of 2017. There’s a Top 10 List at Acoolist's video and product review based on 22 hours of research at Ezvid. If that’s not enough to make your head spin, browse Amazon’s 100 top sellers
Some pet parents use adult and baby diapers - even boy’s underwear where the fly hole is perfect for tails. If you’re looking for inexpensive, try Little Swimmer Disposable Diapers from Walmart and Target at a third the cost of pet diapers sold at big box stores. And, for those die-hard DIYers there are diaper patterns on line to make your own. But with any of these choices, I would suggest you have a ready supply of binder clips and duct tape.

Bottom line, diaper wearing is not trending on social media to be the next big fashion statement. However, that doesn’t mean your best friend has to wear old-fashioned tidy-whities either. Just check out Etsy and you’ll find the latest in doggie diaper couture. There are exotic and playful prints, satins, ruffles, bows, and jewel-studded creations like you’ve never imagined. Of course, no outfit is complete without a top and a company called Fancy Nancy’s makes colorful tanks to match their special line of diapers with whimsical names like Orange Crush, Island Blossoms, and Pink Monkey Kingdom.

Need a specialty fit for a tiny Chihuahua or giant Mastiff, check out Pants for Dogs. Their line includes Leg Protectors for standard and miniature Poodles and Pee Jackets for large dogs in full show coats. My personal favorite is The Fig Leaf for small dogs, maybe because the name is pure genius.

While diapers may be fashion forward, there’s one problem universal to them all.They droop!So, if you see your dog wearing his diaper “gangster street style” it’s not because he’s making a statement, he just can’t keep it up. Now you can fix the problem with diaper suspenders! For a more traditional type suspender, look at selections at Barkertime - an American made company known for their quality pet goods. Of course, if you want ultra-stylish, take a look at those by Fancy Nancy’s.

 Barkertime's instagram

Barkertime's instagram

One vet said that “No diaper is better than a diaper… unless you absolutely have to”. That’s because with this solution comes other issues like:diaper rash; dogs who eat their diaper because steroid medication makes them crazy hungry; and urinary tract infections. If diapers are a must, change often and use unscented baby wipes to regularly clean the area.

In the end, I chose Pet Magasin Reusable Dog Diapers for my Ms. Maru. They come with a two-year warranty and 100% money back guarantee. You can also line them with a regular people person’s hygiene pad for extra protection.

Diapers are expected to have super powers. But what they really do is give pet parents peace of mind. And, while that first diaper can be scary to you and your pup, keep in mind that horses in Central Park and even astronauts wear them.Now is the time to stay strong and give your best friend some extra love and remember that even a good dog can have a bad day!

*Another tip that works well while wearing a diaper lining their crate and couch with garbage bags under a sheet and taping them down so nothing seeps through.